The Asahi Shimbun leads with a story on the training camp held in Tokyo in preparation for the U-23 Samurai Blue 2012 Olympic Games qualification match against Bahrain on Wednesday, and a short interview with star midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake. The 22 year-old Cerezo player suffered a calf muscle strain prior to the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Syria, a defeat that “he found frustrating”. Kiyotake was then unable to join the national team squad for the 4-0 victory over Malaysia, Kiyotake adding that “he had a responsibility to a team he only joined in November”. Kiyotake summed up Japan’s attitude to the match by saying that “You want to reach the Olympic Games by winning, not drawing”, though a single point will suffice to guarantee that outcome.
Zico will face Japan in opposition, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun, having been appointed as national team coach of Iraq in August 2011. The Brazilian, who led Japan to the 2004 AFC Asian Cup title and a place at the FIFA 2006 World Cup following an excellent qualification campaign in which the Samurai Blue only recorded a single loss, resigned his position after Japan exited at the group stage in Germany, drawing once and losing twice. The legendary player, now 59, stated that “Japan and Australia are favourites to qualify, with Japan having good players and in Shinji Kagawa someone who is able to alter matches”.
Finally, the Mainichi Shimbun confirms that the J.League Division 1 side Yokohama F-Marinos is launching a trial to make the 72,000 capacity Nissan Stadium smoke-free. This follows on from moves by Kanagawa Prefecture authorities and local governments across the country to prevent passive smoking. From 17 March spectators will only be able to smoke at four designated areas outside the stadium.